The deadly dangers of di-hydrogen oxide

It qualifies as an old schoolboy joke, by now, right up there with “Do you have Prince Albert in a can?”

Inform someone that the substance di-hydrogen oxide is so corrosive that a new steel nail exposed to the stuff will rust within hours; so deadly that a person attempting to breathe a pure di-hydrogen oxide atmosphere will die of asphyxiation in less than a minute. Now ask the subject whether he or she agrees this di-hydrogen oxide stuff should be tightly regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency — labeled as a poison, kept out of the hands of children, and so forth.

Di-hydrogen oxide is better known as “water.” You can’t breathe it, and it will rust nails, but it’s also a wonderful substance absolutely necessary to human — and virtually every other kind of — life. The bureaucracy necessary to regulate it as though it were a poison would be vastly wasteful and absurd. (“Warning: attempting to inhale contents of this bottle can cause brain damage or death. …”)

Similarly, carbon dioxide is not a toxin (unless, as in the example above, you try to breathe an atmosphere of PURE carbon dioxide, in which case the real problem is not toxicity but oxygen displacement.) In fact, carbon dioxide is naturally occurring in the atmosphere and is vital to plant life and the ecology of the planet.

Attempting to limit the production and release of carbon dioxide is as absurd as attempting to restrict human access to water.

Yet the bizarre notion in current vogue is that the man-made generation of carbon dioxide (as a by-product of energy production, for example) — which is dwarfed by the quantities of naturally occurring carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — contributes enough to ongoing “global warming” to constitute an imminent danger to human life.

Two years ago the Supreme Court ruled that under the Clean Air Act, if greenhouse gases are found to endanger public health or welfare, then they must be regulated.

That may indeed be a proper reading of the law, in which case the Supreme Court was only doing its job.

Any sane White House and Congress would have responded in the same manner as if the court had pointed out that some law had the unintended consequence of requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate water as a toxin. They simply would have gone back and re-written the law to have a more limited impact.

Instead, the Bush administration did something more politically expedient. It simply declined to make a finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health or welfare — while leaving the overly broad law on the books.

Now the Democrats are in charge, and the problem with the grown-ups not having gone back to fix the underlying problem grows obvious. The Associated Press reported Monday that the Obama White House is reviewing a new finding by the Environmental Protection Agency that global warming is, indeed, a threat to public health and welfare.

“The EPA action is the first step to regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, a move that would have broad economic and environmental impacts,” The AP reports, in a masterpiece of understatement.

The goal here is nothing short of an enormously cumbersome federal regulation and add-on taxation of all American heavy industry — especially energy production — regardless of the cost.

Or, to be more accurate, with higher costs being seen as a good thing, by Luddites who hope to destroy our industrial civilization, which they see as “unclean.”

A new economic study released Tuesday confirms earlier findings that a Western carbon cap-and-trade scheme pushed by a handful of western governors, the Western Governors Association and some environmental groups could cost the West hundreds of thousands of jobs, slow investment and cut personal income for millions of citizens.

The study (http://www.beaconhill.org/BHIStudies/WCI-2009/WCIReportFinal090323.pdf) also found that the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) — backed by leaders of seven Western states but not by Nevada — would require those states to dramatically increase the number of government employees hired at taxpayer expense.

The analysis was conducted by economists at the Beacon Hill Institute of Suffolk University in Boston. The BHI study authors concluded: “Using the Western Climate Initiative’s own projections of increases in fuel costs, BHI finds that the policies will decrease employment, investment, personal income and disposable income.” None of the seven WCI states would escape economic harm should cap-and-trade be imposed, the study found.

Nor does the argument that “The EPA will be reasonable” carry much weight. First, this is the same federal government that took the law so literally it tried to require the Hooters restaurant chain to hire male “Hooters Girls.” But second, even should the EPA try to wield its proposed new powers with a light hand, the green extremists will be right there to file their lawsuits, insisting the EPA isn’t doing enough to “protect us.”

From what?

Many scientists say the current harsh winter is no coincidence — the minor “global warming” which was ongoing in recent decades may have slowed or ended. Scares about “holes in the ozone layer” turn out to have been groundless.

If the globe WERE to continue warming at a rate of about one degree per century, the biggest impact on mankind would likely be that food could be grown a hundred miles further north.

Carbon dioxide from any source (and most, recall, is naturally occurring) is a minor component of the atmosphere and a far less significant contributor to the “greenhouse effect” than other greenhouse gases including water vapor, anyway.

Ice core samples going back hundreds of thousands of years show carbon dioxide levels rise AFTER normal, inevitable, cyclical temperature increases — indicating they’re not causative, but rather a trailing indicator. (It’s more likely the regular waves of global warming and cooling are triggered by solar activity.)

The danger is that — just as deadly absurdities from witch-burnings to the Crusades could be justified centuries ago by insisting “It’s God’s will,” so may today’s populace be drawn into behaviors suicidal for our economy by the shriek that “Science says we have to do SOMETHING!”

And here I thought “science” was a discipline that valued reason and skepticism, while occasionally demanding experimental proofs.

2 Comments to “The deadly dangers of di-hydrogen oxide”

  1. Chris Says:

    The window of opportunity to install this regime is rapidly closing, as the media is having a harder time containing dissenting scientific information. Undoubtedly, there will be a rush to get something in place before too many people find out it’s a crock.

  2. Jake Witmer Says:

    And even if some kind of evil cap-and-trade is implemented, there’s nothing that says it’s permanent. Human stupidity is only permanent if we accept it. If we reject it –either through direct civil disobedience and avoidance of the law, or via jury nullification, or both– it cannot stand.

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